Thought for the Day: Learning vs. Labeling

Builders:

A few days ago I made a two sentence public comment expressing “disappointment’ at a single position taken by a public servant. This provoked a verbal attack from a person who felt his hero was to be followed dogmatically. The verbal attack was trying to label me with names of groups which he is emotionally driven to dismiss without any consideration of argument nor logic.

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We live in the ‘information age’ but ironically, a great number of people much prefer labeling people to learning anything from them; These people prefer the mindlessly shouted slogan to any consideration of opposing thought.  These people have long been conditioned, the first thing to do when encountering a different thought is Label it with a pre-provided name, so it can be dismissed without any further consideration.

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This is the stock and trade of political parties and the 24hr media, and it works like magic to generate rabidly loyal fans of their home team, standing on their sidelines shouting at the other side, which they have long been told to label, dismiss and hate. They do this while seeking the cocoon of comfort provided by social and media sources that always affirm their every preconception.  It is pointless to speak with a person who must label everyone who doesn’t agree a “liberal.” It is an equal waste to speak with the numerous people who have accusingly labeled me just the opposite. Both of them are afraid to think and consider, and have to come to the conclusion I am an American who doesn’t need to agree with them. They are much like a 12 year old boy in an Islamabad madrasa, conditioned to dismiss and hate anything that is labeled ‘infidel.’  The only difference being the boy has no choice, and adults in this Country have to willfully chose the path of lazy ignorance.

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Your Aviation Connection:

I have written a number of very frank stories, like this one: ERAU – models of integrity #2, that explain why every aviator has a moral and ethical responsibility to learn everything he can from any knowledgeable source, not just ones he ‘likes’ or hold the same social opinions as he does. This is not a small point. Aviation is far too serious a task, and it has no room for people who’s knee jerk emotional reaction when encountering different experiences and perspectives is to label and dismiss them.

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The branch of aviation which this most applies to his homebuilding. Building your own plane and learning how to fly it requires so much learning that is preposterous for anyone to expect success while dismissing opportunities to learn.  I was 27 years old when I came to understand this, and I have been willing to devote my entire working like to this subject. If the average age of a new homebuilder is 55, and he works outside aviation, he must decide now, to consider and learn, as the time line is not in his favor, and this task doesn’t generate second chances. If he is building a plane with a passenger seat, he has a moral and ethical obligation to put away the lesser parts of his ego and get on with the task of becoming a better, more thinking aviator.

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 Sadly there are many people in aviation who will not learn from, or even listen to sources of information they can dismiss by labeling. Your best defense against them is to give them a very wide berth….and make damn sure you resist the human weakness to prefer the company of people that just reinforce perspectives and opinions you acquired without inspection or consideration. Be open minded to learning from any source, like your life depends on it….. because it does.

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I have no issue nor conflict with any person who thinks differently than I do, I operate under the assumption that most people do. The only conflict I have is with people who somehow feel that not thinking at all, just living in an artificial world of labels, slogans and judgments is better than considering each person they meet as an individual, each with the right to see things differently. -ww.

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“The representatives of predatory wealth are guilty of all forms of iniquity from the oppression of wage workers to defrauding the public.”

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If you told the general public that a candidate for the presidency made the above statement, I am sure that 90% of them would guess the words above would be from social progressive Bernie Sanders, and dismiss them. In reality, these were actually said by Teddy Roosevelt in the 1904 election, and he was very proud of calling himself a social progressive. For those who need to label and dismiss, finding out an American hero on Mount Rushmore doesn’t fit in a neatly labeled box causes stress. To the open minded, it is a chance to expand one’s understanding.

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Above Teddy Roosevelt and Booker T Washington.  People who like their history to fit with neat labels will have a very hard time reconciling Roosevelt to their mythology.  TR was never supposed to be president, the power brokers of the day recognized his popularity, and hoped to benignly store him in the Vice Presidency. A single 6 gram bullet from a pathetically weak .32 S&W was just enough to change the course of American history.  Within weeks of being sworn in, TR began a long series of radical reforms and actions, starting with having Booker T Washington to dinner, an act that outraged southerners. He went on to draw the hatred of the wealthy and powerful, the connected and corrupt, and every other group that thought they were more important than the American people.  He was far more of a political radical than any candidate running today, including Sanders.

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Anyone who has been to our home can tell you that it is lined with floor to celling bookshelves, that even extend onto the porch. Much of it is very old, like my great aunt’s period collection on the Spanish American war. I spent 11 years in college including earning a degree in political science because I like learning. I have never bought a TV set in my life, for the same reason. One shelf in the living room has 4 feet of books just on TR, maybe 20,000 pages, I have read it all. Perhaps saying this might dissuade the next Fox tv news viewer who hasn’t read a book in years from trying to label me an “Ignorant Liberal” just because I will not blindly kowtow to his or anyone else’s dogma, but I doubt it. Neither will writing stories like Thinking of Mike Holey, an Aviator and a friend. have msnbc viewers change their views on ‘guns.’ You can’t communicate with people who have labeled and dismissed you, only people who are willing to read, think and consider. This also happens to be the people who get something out of building and flying.

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Harry S Truman - NARA - 530677 (2).jpg

People comforted by labeling all Democrats weak on defense have to conveniently ignore that the only person in history to order the use of nuclear weapons in combat was Harry Truman. He did so without hesitation. When at the conference table at Yalta, he was told project Trinity had worked. From that moment forward there was no question he would use the bomb, as it might remove the need to give concessions to the USSR in Europe to gain their participation against Japan.

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Dwight D. Eisenhower, official photo portrait, May 29, 1959.jpg

People comforted by labeling all Republicans warmongers have to conveniently ignore Eisenhower’s open and bold warning against the “Rise of the military-industrial complex”  in his 1960 speech to the nation. The impact of these words from a president who was also a 5 star general can not be overstated;

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

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“If a man, holding a belief which he was taught in childhood or persuaded of afterwards, keeps down and pushes away any doubts which arise about it in his mind, purposely avoids the reading of books and the company of men that call into question or discuss it, and regards as impious those questions which cannot easily be asked without disturbing it–the life of that man is one long sin against mankind.”

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William Clifford, The Ethics of Belief – 1877.

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-ww.

About William Wynne
I have been continuously building, testing and flying Corvair engines since 1989. Information, parts and components that we developed and tested are now flying on several hundred Corvair powered aircraft. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Professional Aeronautics and an A&P license from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and have a proven 20 year track record of effectively teaching homebuilders how to create and fly their own Corvair powered planes. Much of this is chronicled at www.FlyCorvair.com and in more than 50 magazine articles.

3 Responses to Thought for the Day: Learning vs. Labeling

  1. Bruce Culver says:

    I am reminded of a famous quote often attributed to Mark Twain, though there is no evidence he ever said it: “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.” While many people seem to think that ignorance is bliss, consider the motto at the US Naval Test Center at Patuxent River: “What you don’t know won’t hurt you – it will kill you.”

  2. Ray Klein says:

    Bruce, I will have that motto displayed in the ready room at our flying club!

  3. $8!;9" says:

    “He said that every honest intelligent man who has done something with his life already has a full list of things he has done that he now finds contemptible”

    Being exposed to your intellect, if only through your writing, to this day, still remains a privilege.

    Thank you.

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